Councils accused of sitting on cash reserves

Reports that councils 'have been accused of sitting on cash that could be used to help them cope with budget cuts', after official figures showed that their reserves grew in the past year, feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that "English local authorities’ reserves not ringfenced for specific spending rose nearly £1 billion to £22.5 billion in 2014/15, figures published on Thursday showed. The savings are in addition to the £2.3 billion councils set aside last year." The paper quotes Claire Kober, who holds the resources portfolio at the Local Government Association, the councils’ representative body, saying the figures were "hugely misleading".

The FT also reports that "London’s mayor has given final approval to a £8.4 billion, 12,700-home development set to transform the Greenwich peninsula in south-east London into a high-rise urban village complete with film studio". The paper says developers Knight Dragon "have begun construction on what is billed as Britain’s largest regeneration project run by a single developer, a 150-acre scheme approved 10 years ago in a more modest form but revived and expanded since the financial crisis."

The Telegraph reports that, according to an analysis it has carried out, the High Speed Two rail project "is the most expensive high-speed project in existence". The paper says the current "£42.6 billion budget makes it more than ten times the cost per kilometre of some global counterparts. This price has been criticised by campaigners, who have say it is ‘abysmal value for money’."

The Times (subscription required) reports that "house price growth in the UK’s biggest cities will return to double digits this year as activity in markets that have been slow to recover from the financial crisis begins to heat up".

The Guardian reports that, as part of a festival in Bristol about the future of cities, the writer Will Self has carried out a walking tour of the city. The paper says that Self began the tour "with a brief introduction to the Situationists – the Paris-based artists and thinkers of the 1960s who championed the concept of ‘psychogeography’, the unplanned drifting through an urban landscape to become more in tune with one’s surroundings."

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